Global Seminar 2017: Development, Genocide and Nature Conservation in Namibia

Namibia is a stable democracy and a middle-income country with stunning landscapes and game parks. Yet the peaceful country has a tempestuous history: slave raids, genocidal warfare and overhunting marked much of the 19th and 20th centuries, making it a fascinating country to study. 

Windhoek, Namibia: June 10 - July 22

Application Deadline: February 13, 2017

About the Seminar

The seminar will cover Namibia’s society and environment taking into account both local and global dynamics. Namibia’s history was as deeply affected by its local (semi-)arid environment as it was by slavers from the Atlantic, invaders from Germany and South Africa, and refugees from Angola. In turn, Namibian slaves, laborers, and war refugees scattered across Africa and beyond while its precious resources (including livestock, game, fish, copper, diamonds, and uranium) fed rapacious global markets. The colonial conquest of Namibia and its decolonization were deeply interwoven with two major global conflicts: respectively World War One and the Cold War.

The course uses a combination of in-class and field-study as well as experiential learning. The seminar will be based in Windhoek for 4 weeks with daily language and seminar classes in the morning and research and volunteer internships with community organizations in the afternoons. During weeks 4 and 5 the seminar shifts to a travelling mode to visit key sites, including national parks and community conservancies. We will spend one week in Ongwediva in the far north of the country, where the majority of the population of Namibia hails from.  The region was also a main Cold War battle ground and is a place where social and environmental priorities clash. The study of Namibia serves to address a much larger issue: the nature of development. Development in essence is about the domestication or harnessing of nature through (western) science and technology. The non-West – i.e., colonial Namibia – was seen as part of nature that had to be developed under the tutelage of western culture. Identifying non-Western peoples and their environments as nature thus legitimized western colonialism and green imperialism. It also justified genocidal warfare and the ruthless exploitation of “primitive” peoples, fauna, and flora, paradoxically all in the name of development and conservation.

Faculty Director

Emmanuel Kreike has a Ph.D. in African history from Yale University (1996) and a Dr. of Science (Ph.D.) in Tropical Forestry from the School of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University (2006), the Netherlands. His research and teaching interests focus on the intersection of war/violence, population displacement, environment, and society. He is particularly interested in how violence (including, for example, colonial conquest, the apartheid wars, slave raiding) and ensuing forced migration led to the destruction of human landscapes and how people rebuild lives and livelihoods in often alien environments. He has taught courses in African history and environmental history at Princeton University as well as courses in forestry and environmental sciences in Namibia and South Africa. 

Seminar Manager

Jayne Bialkowski can be reached at or by calling 609-258-2635.

Distribution Requirements

This course fulfills the Historical Analysis (HA) requirement; the requirements for the certificate in African Studies; and the departmental requirements for History (HIS).

Costs and Financial Aid

Program Fee: $3,100 (includes all housing, required course excursions, and related academic expenses). Additional instructional costs (books and materials, required immunizations) will vary, but students should budget up to $425 for these expenses. Roundtrip airfare and airport transportation is estimated at $1,800, meals at $775 and personal expenses at $800.

PIIRS provides generous funding to students admitted to the Global Seminars who receive term financial aid. Possibilities for additional financial support may be available through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE). Princeton Subsidized Student Loans, available from the Office of Financial Aid, are also highly recommended over charging costs to a credit card. Please consult Financing Options for Students and Parents 2016–17, specifically pages 1–2 and Table 3, and contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information

To ensure a place in the seminar, a $500 nonrefundable deposit will be charged to participants’ accounts on April 1; the balance of the course fee will be charged to accounts on May 15.

NB: Students who accept a place in a Global Seminar and then, before the seminar begins, withdraw or cannot participate because they are no longer enrolled at Princeton will lose the nonrefundable deposit and any unrecoverable costs. There are no refunds after the start of the program.

PIIRS Global Seminars are made possible in part by the generous contributions of alumni and friends and ongoing efforts of the Office of Development.